We started the day with breakfast in the hotel, a good selection of hot and cold dishes were on offer in the pleasant restaurant. Setting out, it was a cold, sunny morning and our first stop was to the top of Wawel Hill to visit Wawel Castle built between the 13th and 14th centuries. The castle consists of several buildings built around a central courtyard. There are fine views from the castle walls of the Vistula river, which is Poland’s longest.
Leaving the castle we walked along the river, crossing one of the road bridges and a little further on we came to Kazimerz, the Jewish quarter and explored this neighbourhood. A highlight here for first time visitors is Oscar Schindler’s Enamel Factory Museum devoted to the wartime experiences during the period of Nazi rule. I have visited the museum twice before and would highly recommend it. We wandered the cobbled streets, visited the old synagogue and enjoyed lunch in an attractive small restaurant that we discovered on our last visit.
Our lunch of French Onion soup, toasted sandwiches and a pot of tea was delicious and cost less than £3 each.
We slowly made our way back to the town centre and headed to the stylish shopping mall Galeria Krakowska near the railway station. We looked around several stores before stopping for cappuccinos in one of the cafes. Then it was back to the huge main square, Rynek Glowny, covering 10 acres it is the largest and one of the most beautiful of European squares.
In the centre lies the impressive Rennaissance Cloth Hall which is now used to sell local crafts and gifts.
At one corner is the Basilica of the Virgin Mary and on the other side, the 13th century Gothic Town Hall Tower. On the hour each hour a window opens from the top of the Basilica and a golden bugle is held out and played. Crowds gather and it is lovely to see and hear the melodic sounds of this long standing tradition.
We looked around the charming Christmas market and warmed ourselves with mugs of mulled wine which tasted delicious and cost about £1.20 each. We were not hungry but passing the food stalls were unable to resist and bought ourselves large sausages (£1.50) each and sat at one of the nearby wooden tables to eat our snack. It was then back to our hotel for a short rest before eating dinner in a nearby restaurant. We ended the evening with a last look at the festive market and returned to our hotel after an enjoyable day in this charming small city.
We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast then took a walk through the Planty garden before checking out of our hotel. The Best Western Krakow Old Town exceeded expectations and I would be happy to return for a future visit. We wandered back to the station with enough time for some Christmas shopping in the Galeria Krakowska mall before returning to the airport by train.
Our flight back home departed on time and in a little over two hours we were back in the UK after an enjoyable short visit to Kraków.
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